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Escambia County voters choose appointed school superintendent, board member weighs in

Escambia County voters choose appointed school superintendent, board member weighs in. (Source: WEAR-TV)

Voters on election night passed the Escambia County School District Referendum in a nail-biting vote.

The measure, which will have superintendents appointed by the School Board versus being elected, was passed by a very slim margin.

Voters made a decision in favor of the appointed superintendent with 50.36 percent to 49.64 percent according to unofficial totals from the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections. This is the sixth time the issue was put before the voters in Escambia County.

Channel 3 News spoke to Paul Fetsko, who was elected as the new School Board member for District 2, he said he’s worked for Districts that appoint and elect Superintendents. He says he sees pros and cons with both systems.

"The majority spoke last night [Tuesday] and that majority decided we're going to go to appointed and i want to make sure we get the best process on getting the best appointed superintendent that we can get,” Fetsko said.

He said there will definitely be a lot of work ahead for the School Board to prepare for the transition.

"What type of set up will we use? What process will we use for getting information and disseminating it to each board member having the opportunity to come back and discuss any issues?” Fetsko explained.

One of the main groups pushing for appointing Superintendents was Yes for Escambia Schools.

One of the Political Committee’s loudest voices was Michelle Salzman. She tells Channel 3 News that the referendum will allow the School Board to search for the best candidates to be Superintendent and allowing it to look for candidates across the country.

"We'll have a criteria for hiring, it won’t just be someone that is an Escambia County resident with no felonies and raises a lot of money,” Salzman said.

But she admits with such a tight race not everyone will be on board with the idea.

"The closeness of the race says there's a lot of conversations to be had at the table with others. We don't need divisiveness at the District or at the School Board level,” Salzman explained.

Current Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas will finish hiss term, the Board will then choose a replacement in 2020.

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